St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Exodus 3:13-20 + Matthew 11:28-30
July 15, 2021
God replied, “I am who am.”
We often take for granted the power of names. Two examples can illustrate this simple truth. Many of us had the experience when little of our parents calling us by our full name: first, middle, and last. This was generally not a good thing. Secondly, when someone is angry with you, it’s a very powerful expression of anger when that person calls out your name in anger. Hearing your name called out in anger can easily rattle you.
At the same time, the use of names can also be a strong force for good. Reflect on the use of one’s full name (or at least, one’s first and middle names) at one’s baptism, and the taking of an additional name at Confirmation, and the holy custom of a bride taking her husband’s surname to express the unity created by God through Holy Matrimony.
As important as human names are, the divine Name is infinitely more important. It’s not much of a stretch to say that of all the Commandments, the Second is the least understood, and the one most often broken by Christians. In today’s First Reading, God gives the gift of His Holy Name to Moses. He entrusts it to them to use rightly.
There are only two valid reasons to speak the name of God (including the Holy Name of Jesus): for prayer, and for teaching. Any other use is sinful, because any other use is “in vain”. It’s obvious to us that speaking the Name of “God” or “Jesus” in anger is sinful. But so is speaking these names casually: that is, to express boredom, impatience, and/or frustration. Christians have the obligation to teach this to their children and grandchildren, in part by turning off media that violate this commandment.